When you live with a chronic illness like IBS or Crohn’s, support from a friend can mean the world to you. But sometimes friends don’t always know the right things to say.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of five things not to say to people with IBS or Crohn’s disease (as well as some alternative approaches). It’s meant to be shared with friends, loved ones, and anyone touched by IBS or Crohn’s, for a better handle on approaching illness.
1.“But you don’t LOOK sick…”
This might be intended as a compliment, but it has the opposite effect. When someone lives with a chronic illness such as Crohn’s, they’ll hear speculation instead of encouragement.
If someone you know who has a digestive illness looks good, tell them that, but follow that with a more universal question:
“How are you feeling?”
This question opens the door for a deeper conversation about your friend’s illness.
2. “I know how you feel”
Chances are that you don’t.
Just because you’ve had stomach issues – whether that means the flu or even food poisoning – it doesn’t mean you can relate to someone living with a chronic digestive illness.
Even if you have the same condition as this person, everyone experiences chronic illnesses differently. While it might be comforting to hear that others have made it through the thing you’re enduring, the words “I know how you feel” from a healthy person often isn’t helpful.
Instead, ask them to help you understand their illness. They may simply refer you to an article like this one, or they may relish the chance to make themselves understood.
3. “It could be worse, you could have…”
You might think this is helping by putting things in perspective, whether you’re comparing their digestive disorder to something like cancer, or pointing out that you knew someone else with a much worse case of Crohn’s or colitis.
But this isn’t a helpful attitude when you have a friend feeling sick and miserable. So, take a different approach: If they tell you they’re sick, tell them you’re there for them.
4. “You can beat this, and you’ll be back to normal before you know it”
Again, this is a well-meaning statement, but one that ignores the reality that chronic illnesses tend to stick around.
So just tell them “We’ll get through this.” It lets them know they’re strong enough to face their illness, but that they don’t have to face it alone.
5. “You’ve lost weight!” or “You’re lucky, you’re always so thin!”
People dealing with Crohn’s may undergo dramatic weight loss, which is expected when living with an illness brings with it diarrhea and a loss of appetite. Being too thin brings its own health issues, and many people with IBD would probably like to gain a little weight.
So, compliment your friend’s haircut or their new glasses, but keep any remarks about weight loss – or weight gain – to yourself.
If you or someone you know is living with a digestive disorder, Proper Nutrition can help.
Our whole-food supplements like Seacure and SeaVive are made of protein-rich white fish and contain bioactive peptides to combat the effects of IBS and Crohn’s disease.
Visit our product page to find a supplement that can help get a better handle on digestive troubles.